TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday 25thApril 2017
“I found a ball of grass among the hay
And progged it as I passed and went away;
And when I looked I fancied something stirred,
And turned again and hoped to catch the bird —
When out an old mouse bolted in the wheats
With all her young ones hanging at her teats;
She looked so odd and so grotesque to me,
I ran and wondered what the thing could be,
And pushed the knapweed bunches where I stood;
Then the mouse hurried from the craking brood.
The young ones squeaked, and as I went away
She found her nest again among the hay.
The water o’er the pebbles scarce could run
And broad old cesspools glittered in the sun!”
John Clare – poet – 1793-1864
“Their Finest” is a terrific film and it really captured my imagination. I am not a great fan of Bill Nighy. However as an aging and eccentric actor (Ambrose) he was superb in this delightful film, which had everything – humour, action and sorrow. Gemma Arterton stole the show giving such a beautifully sensitive performance as a Welsh girl from Ebbw Vale, ably supported by Sam Claflin, sporting a rather sarcastic dry disposition, as her co-script writer. In 1940, with London being hammered in the Blitz and with the country’s morale at stake, Catrin (Gemma Arterton), an untried screenwriter, and a makeshift cast and crew, work under fire to make a film to lift the nation’s flagging spirits; and inspire America to join the war. This film was such a heart-warming experience. In passing, does critic Camilla Long of the Sunday Times, ever like anything she sees? Life seems so miserable for her!
It’s all getting rather silly this rhetoric between the EU and the UK. The EU won’t even start negotiations officially until the end of May, which is ludicrous. The latest missile to come from Brussels, certain to damage relations, is that the UK must pay its full dues until the end of 2020! Why? Then I read with considerable alarm, as well as incredulity that France’s SNCF wants a piece of HS2’s action. I don’t care how good Alstom and other French rail manufacturers are, I think any contract awards should be dependent on whether France and M Macron are going to tone down their jingoistic rhetoric and stop being so tiresome over BREXIT negotiations! I am sure Canada’s ‘Bombadier’ would love the contract, as would some of their workers here in Derby! And if Bombadier cannot meet the specifications, then we’ll find a friend, who can – not difficult!
Despite the temperature around the Korean peninsula rising, requiring an unscheduled meeting of advisors at the White House today and despite China’s warning to Kim Jong Un, US markets headed towards record levels with the NASDAQ, which started trading in 1971, achieving that goal, as it breached the 6k threshold. We wait with awe and trepidation for Trump’s tax cut plans, which should receive a brief outline from Treasury Secretary Mnuchin in the next day or so, which should include plans for corporate tax cuts down from 35% to 15% in the next 2 years. The market has quite a serious element of expectation premium, which investors expect to be turned in to reality, assuming Congress is in the mood to play ball. This would be a tremendous fillip for business.
Notwithstanding that key element for progress, MacDonald’s posted great numbers with sales over-all up over 4% on the day. The company put improved results down to ‘Big-Macs’ and its breakfast meals. I think it may be down to disposable income falling. It is interesting to note that restaurant visits in the US dropped by 2.16% in 2016, with MCD filling some of the breach with affordable food. MCD’S shares were up over 5% on the day and have risen by 8.4% in the last year. Caterpillar also posted decent numbers, but the shares travelled and arrived – down 0.4%. Lockheed Martin slightly missed – down 2.2%. Texas Instruments pleased their acolytes – +1.5%. The tech sector that had a bit of spring sunshine in its heel, included Apple +0.6%, Facebook +1%, eBay +2.3%, Microsoft (reporting today) +0.4%, Alibaba +0.5% and Alphabet +1.1%. Yesterday New York markets closed as follows including year to date performances – DOW: 20,996 +1.12% +6.24%, S&P: 2,388 +0.61% +6.69% NASDAQ: 5,548 +0.73 +14.075% (46 year high inception 1971). In Asia markets attempted to follow the upbeat sentiment in New York – NIKKEI 19,256 +0.96% +0.788%, HANG SENG: 24,628 +0.71% +11.896% CHINA: 3,453 +0.37% +4.298% ASX: 5,916 +0.75% +4.45%.
London and Europe enjoyed rather nondescript sessions yesterday, having blazed the trail on Monday. The FTSE 100 lost 11 points at 7275. Whitbread’s CEO Alison Brittain would not have been very enamoured with the market’s reception for Whitbread’s latest set of numbers. For the first time in a decade Costa coffee saw a fall in sales (-0.8%), which considering the competition form independents on the high street is hardly surprising and despite those Costa units being open for more than a year, experiencing sales up by 2%. Analysts were not placated by the fact that Premier Inns had ambitious plans to build up the number of hotel beds by 3800 in the next year to add to the circa 68k they already have. Cost saving of £150m had been made and profits were up 6.2%. It was the outlook and ONS’s data which said retail sales had fallen 1.8% in March that rattled analysts’ cage – shared down 7%. Bernard Arnault, France’s richest entrepreneur announced plans to tighten the family’s grip on LVMH by paying €12 billion for the remaining stake in Christian Dior. It is extraordinary that luxury brands still have an amazing premium attached to them.
There have been a slew of earnings this morning. Banco Santander posted results slightly better than expectations. There were solid efforts from GKN. GSK reports later in the morning as does Standard Chartered Bank, which reports at 9.30am. The LSE saw revenue up 19% and profits by 17% in the last quarter, despite no deal being consummated with Deutsche Boerse. Bahoo’s results were good but expectations were very high. The shares initially fell an unnecessary 8%, but are down only 2.5% as I write. As an on-line retailer, Boohoo has been outstanding.
UK companies posting numbers this week – Wednesday – LSE, GKN, Croda International, Standard Chartered Bank, Proactis Holdings, Glaxo SmithKline, Boohoo, Metro Bank, Tullow Oil Thursday – Persimmon, Jardine, Lloyd Thompson, Cobham, Aggreko, Harvey Nash, Travis Perkins, C4X Discovery, Lloyds Banking Group (TS), Weir Group, Schroders, Astra Zeneca, WPP, Kaz Minerals, Howden Joinery, Friday – Barclays, RBS, Rotork, Hastings – 2nd May BP, 3rd May Royal Dutch Shell, 4th May HSBC
US companies posting numbers – Wednesday – Nasdaq, PepsiCo, Boeing, Twitter, Procter & Gamble, Hershey, General Dynamics, PayPal, Amgen, United Technology, Thursday – Ford, Raytheon, Zimmer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Mead Johnson, CME, KKR, AbbVie, Intel, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks
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